Covid-19 has killed more than 4.3M people and infected over 203M globally. Here are all the coronavirus-related developments for August 9:

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are pictured in a vaccination centre in Geneva, Switzerland, February 3, 2021.
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are pictured in a vaccination centre in Geneva, Switzerland, February 3, 2021. (Reuters Archive)

Monday, August 9

Pentagon to seek approval to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory

The Pentagon said that it will seek US President Joe Biden's approval by the middle of September to require military members to get vaccinated against Covid.

After setting virus rules for federal workers, Biden last month directed the Pentagon to look into "how and when" it will require members of the military to take the vaccine.

The Defense Department is targeting mid-September for a vaccination deadline based on expectations for the Food and Drug Administration to give full approval to the Pfizer Inc and BioNTech SE vaccine. Currently it falls under an emergency use authorisation.

France reports more than 100 new coronavirus patients in ICU wards

France saw the number of patients in intensive care wards with Covid-19 increase by 111, the first time since early April that the tally was over 100, health ministry data showed.

The total number in emergency care beds rose to 1,667, following a steady increase from a 2021 low of 859 on July 21. At the end of April, at the peak of the third wave, more than 6,000 virus patients were in ICU.

France also reported 68 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals, taking the total to 112,270. 

Turkey reports 23,731 new cases, over 77.6 million vaccinations

Turkey has administered over 77.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since it launched a mass vaccination campaign in January, according to official figures.

According to the Health Ministry, over 42.14 million people have gotten their first doses, while some 29.63 million are fully vaccinated.

The ministry also confirmed 23,731 new infections and 117 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, while as many as 7,365 more patients have recovered.

Italy's coronavirus deaths double to 22

Italy has reported 22 coronavirus-related deaths, double the day's before figure, the health ministry said, while the daily tally of new infections fell to 4,200 from 5,735.

Italy has registered 128,242 deaths linked to the virus since its outbreak emerged in February last year, the second-highest toll in Europe after Britain and the eighth-highest in the world. The country has reported 4.40 million cases to date.

Patients in hospital with Covid-19 - not including those in intensive care - stood at 2,786, up from 2,631 a day earlier.

Swiss approve second Covid jab for young people

Switzerland approved Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine for youngsters aged between 12 and 17 years old, weeks after EU regulators authorised the drug for the same age group.

The Swissmedic regulatory authority, which has already approved the Pfizer-BioNTech jab for over-12s, said results from an ongoing study showed Moderna had 93 percent efficacy in the young age group.

"The vaccine produced a similar immune response... in this study compared to young adults aged 18 to 25 years," the regulator said.

Britain's  cases up by 5% over past week

Britain has reported 25,161 new cases of Covid-19, government data showed, meaning the rise in cases between August 3 and August 9 stood at 5.2 percent compared with the previous seven days.

A further 37 people were reported as having died within 28 days of a positive test for the virus, taking the seven-day increase to 14.8 percent.

A total of 47.06 million people had received a first dose of a vaccine against coronavirus by August 8 and 39.55 million people had received a second dose. 

Indonesia extends virus curbs as infections spread in regions

Indonesia extended its virus curbs on populous Java and Bali islands until August 16, but will ease them in 26 areas, as official data showed infections have plunged in the capital Jakarta but are increasing elsewhere.

In one of Asia's worst epidemics, authorities restricted mobility to stem the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus on Java and Bali in early July, and since extended them to other areas with high infection rates.

BioNTech says vaccine repeats beat devising new one for now

The first generation vaccine developed by BioNTech-Pfizer works against coronavirus variants such as the Delta strain and does not need to be modified for the moment, the chief executive of German company BioNTech said Monday.

"It is quite possible that in the next six to 12 months, further variants will emerge and that would require adaptation of the vaccine but it is at the moment not yet the case," Ugur Sahin told journalists.

A decision to make a switch should be made only if it is clear that the vaccine failed to work or is only offering sub-par protection against the virus.

The fast-changing situation meant that getting the timing for the change right was also crucial.

"Making a decision at the moment might turn out to be wrong in three or six months if another variant is dominating. Therefore the timing of the decision must be appropriate," he said.

"At the moment we have a good understanding that the booster vaccine with the parental strain is completely sufficient," stressed Sahin.

BioNTech's partner Pfizer has also repeatedly amplified the case for booster shots amid the latest wave of infections.

Brunei sees record virus cases after first local infections in 15 months

Brunei reported 42 new coronavirus cases, a record daily tally, following the detection over the weekend of the Southeast Asian country's first locally transmitted Covid-19 cases in 15 months.

Brunei has implemented strict quarantine rules for inbound travellers and reported 406 infections since the onset of the pandemic. One cluster in the current outbreak was linked to a hotel quarantine centre, health minister Mohd Isham Jaafar said.

The outbreak was causing quarantine centres to quickly fill up, and authorities were also investigating the possibility illegal border crossings between Brunei and Malaysia were the source of the latest infections, he said.

Iran says one person dying of Covid-19 every two minutes

One person is now dying from the virus every two minutes in Iran, state TV said, as the Middle East’s worst-hit nation reported a new record daily toll of 588 fatalities.

With authorities complaining of poor social distancing, state media say hospitals in several cities have run out of beds for new patients. Some social media users have criticised the clerical establishment over slow vaccinations, with only about 4 percent of the 83 million population fully inoculated.

Total deaths have reached 94,603, the ministry said, while cases rose by 40,808 in the past 24 hours to 4,199,537 in a fifth wave blamed on the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Egypt receives first batch of J&J vaccines

Egypt received its first shipment of one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines, obtaining 261,600 doses in cooperation with the African Union, the health ministry said.

The J&J vaccines will be distributed to 126 vaccination centres specifically for those who want to travel abroad, Khaled Megahed, assistant health minister for media and ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

Egypt recently began locally producing Sinovac's vaccines, through a deal between the Chinese company and Egypt's Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA).

Russia reports 22,160 new virus cases, 769 deaths

Russia reported 22,160 new virus cases, including 2,150 in Moscow, taking the official national tally since the pandemic began to 6,469,910.

The government coronavirus task force said 769 people had died of coronavirus-linked causes in the past 24 hours, pushing the national death toll to 165,650.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and has said Russia recorded about 315,000 deaths related to the virus from April 2020 to June 2021.

Australia expands virus lockdown over concern virus has spread from Sydney

Australia expanded a virus lockdown to a rural town and the coastal region of Byron Bay, as fears grew that the virus has spread from Sydney to the northern tip of the country's most populous state.

Tamworth, a farming town 414 km (257 miles) northwest of Sydney, and Byron Bay, a tourist spot about 770 km north of Sydney, will both enter a seven-day lockdown, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

Virus-free New Zealand plans border reopening amid labour shortage

Under pressure from businesses and public sectors facing a worker shortage that policymakers fear will fuel inflation, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is due to unveil plans this week to reopen the country's borders.

Ardern garnered global praise for containing local transmission of the virus via an elimination strategy, imposing tough lockdowns and slamming New Zealand's international border shut in March 2020.

Mexico asks US for 3.5 million vaccines

Mexico will ask the United States to send at least 3.5 million more doses of Covid-19 vaccine as the country faces a third wave of infections, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said.

The president said he planned to discuss a transfer of vaccine with US Vice President Kamala Harris during a call scheduled for later Monday.

López Obrador said the US government had initially offered the Moderna vaccine, but Mexican health authorities could not get the necessary approvals in time so now they are considering Pfizer or another approved vaccine.

Cyprus investigates doctors issuing  Covid certificates

Cyprus authorities are investigating at least five instances where doctors allegedly issued false “SafePass” certificates that show the holder to have been vaccinated against Covid-19, recovered from having contracted the virus or to have recently tested negative.

Cypriot Attorney General George Savvides said an arrest warrant was issued for one physician suspected of issuing a false certificate.

France requires QR code for restaurants, cafes

France is now requiring people to show a QR code proving they have a special virus pass before they can enjoy restaurants and cafes or travel across the country.

The measure is part of a government plan to encourage more people to get a Covid-19 vaccine shot and slow down a surge in infections, as the highly contagious delta variant now accounts for most cases in France. Over 36 million people in France, or more than 54 percent of the population, are fully vaccinated.

The special pass is issued to people who are vaccinated against Covid-19, or have proof of a recent recovery from the virus or who have a recent negative test. The measure also applies to tourists visiting the country.

Italian police bast suspects selling fake Green Passes

Italian police have cracked down on sales of fake Green Passes needed in the country to access gyms, theatres, cinemas, bingo parlors or dine indoors.

The Italian postal police corps that specialises in internet and other cybersecurity crime said that the passes, which certify that holders have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine, recovered from the illness in the last six months or tested negative in the previous 48 hours, were being sold for prices ranging from 150 to 500 euros ($180-600).

The police said four suspects, including two minors, are under investigation. The suspects allegedly used the communications app Telegram to offer fake certifications.

Sri Lanka asymptomatic patients to stay home

Sri Lanka has started a program to home-manage asymptomatic Covid-19 patients, abandoning its policy of hospitalising almost everyone who tests positive, as the number of daily infections surges.

People aged between 2 and 65 will be observed by doctors manning call centres. Doctors will assess the patients daily and recommend admission if needed.

However, those who are obese or with a history of chronic heart, kidney or other major ailments will be hospitalised immediately.

Nepal vaccinates the elderly 

Nepal has begun a campaign to fully vaccinate all over-65s in the country against Covid-19 following the arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan.

The 1.4 million citizens over 65 had been given the first dose of the vaccine in March but they had to wait for many months for the second one because of India’s refusal to export any vaccine made there. Japan’s donation follows Nepal government’s desperate appeals to foreign governments for AstraZeneca vaccines.

More Delta clusters emerge in China

More clusters of the highly contagious Delta variant is emerging across China.

The country reported 125 new cases on the mainland, up from 96 cases a day earlier, the health authority said.

Among the new confirmed infections, 94 were locally transmitted, up from 81 a day earlier, while the remainder were imported from abroad, the National Health Commission (NHC) said.

Most local infections were in the central province of Henan and the eastern province of Jiangsu.

The number of new asymptomatic infections was 39 from 30 a day earlier.

Most cities are implementing mandatory mass testing to isolate those who've contracted Delta.

Canada to allow vaccinated US citizens across border

Canada is lifting its prohibition on Americans crossing the border to shop, vacation or visit, but the US is keeping similar restrictions in place for Canadians, part of a bumpy return to normalcy from travel bans.

US citizens and legal permanent residents must be both fully vaccinated and test negative within three days to get across one of the world’s longest and busiest land borders. Travelers also must fill out a detailed application on the arriveCAN app before crossing.

Even though travelers have to register, the Canada Border Services Agency won’t say how many people they are expecting to enter Canada for the reopening.

But travelers should plan for the possibility of additional processing time at the border.

US judge blocks Florida from banning vaccine passports on cruise ships

A US judge has allowed Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. to demand that passengers show written proof of vaccination before they board a ship, dealing a major blow to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's effort to ban "vaccine passports."

In a preliminary ruling issued on Sunday, US District Judge Kathleen Williams in Miami said Norwegian would likely prevail on its argument that the "vaccine passport" ban, signed into law by DeSantis in May, jeopardises public health and is an unconstitutional infringement the ship operator's rights.

The judge blocked DeSantis from enforcing the law against the company, allowing the cruise ship operator to proceed with a plan to resume port activity in Miami on Aug. 15. 

Violations of the law could have triggered a penalty of $5,000 per passenger, potentially adding up to millions of dollars per cruise.

Raymond Treadwill, a lawyer for DeSantis, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ruling comes as big business and some government entities are responding to the rapid spread of the Delta variant with vaccination requirements, prompting legal challenges from vaccine skeptics and civil libertarians.

South Korea opens vaccine reservations for all adults

South Korea begins opening vaccine reservations for all adults over 18 for the first time as it scrambles to stave off a rise in sporadic outbreaks, many of them among young, unvaccinated residents.

South Korea was praised for its handling of the virus at the beginning of the pandemic with thorough tracing and testing, but a slow vaccination uptake has overlapped with surge in more transmissible variants.

Some 45% of South Korea's 52 million population have had at least one dose of vaccine, while just 15% have been fully vaccinated as of Sunday midnight.

The country aims to immunise over 70% of adults by September as it vaccinates those in the 18-49 age bracket with Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech's products.

Germany's confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 1,183 

The number of confirmed cases in Germany increased by 1,183 to 3,791,949, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed. 

The reported death toll rose by two to 91,784, the tally showed. 

Tokyo reports 28 new Games-related cases

Tokyo Olympics organisers reported 28 new Games-related cases, bringing the total since July 1 to 458 cases.

Japan concluded the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Sunday, while the Paralympics are slated to start on August 24.

Australia PM's ratings hit pandemic lows amid lockdowns

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's public approval rating has hit its lowest level since the pandemic began amid growing frustration over lockdowns and a sluggish vaccination drive, according to a poll.

A Newspoll conducted for The Australian newspaper showed Morrison's public support dropped four points to 47%, the lowest level since he fielded criticism early last year over his government's response to devastating bushfires.

Morrison's Liberal-National Party coalition government is also trailing opposition Labor on a two-party preferred basis, where votes for minor parties are distributed, by 47-53. 

If the poll result were replicated at an election, the conservative government would lose office to centre-left Labor.

Morrison has been under fire for a slow vaccine rollout which critics said had plunged large parts of the country into a cycle of stop-and-start lockdowns to quell outbreaks of the highly infectious Delta variant.

Snap lockdowns, tough border controls and swift contact tracing have helped Australia keep its pandemic numbers relatively low, with just over 36,250 cases and 938 deaths. 

Suga's support falls below 30% for first time

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga slid below 30% for the first time since he took office, a survey showed, a sign the Tokyo Olympic Games failed to boost his ratings amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

Roughly a third disapproved of holding the Games which closed on Sunday and 60% said they did not want Suga to stay on as premier, according to the poll conducted by Asahi newspaper, darkening his ruling party's prospects in general elections to be held later this year.

In the poll conducted over the weekend, Suga's support slid to 28%, the lowest since he became prime minister in September last year.

Of those polled, 56% of those who replied said it was good to hold the Tokyo Games, while 32% thought it was a bad idea.

Japan's slow vaccination rollouts have hurt Suga's popularity and a spike in new infections, caused by the rapid spread of the Delta variant, has overshadowed the Olympic Games with cases hitting a milestone of one million on Friday.

Mexico has more than 7,000 new cases

Mexico registered 7,573 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 172 additional fatalities, bringing the country's totals to 2,971,817 infections and 244,420 deaths, according to Health Ministry data.

The government has said the real number of cases is likely significantly higher, and separate data published earlier this year suggested the actual death toll is at least 60% above the confirmed figure.

US teachers' union shifts stance to back vaccine mandate as Covid surges

Covid-19 vaccinations should be required for US teachers to protect students who are too young to be inoculated, the head of the nation's second-largest teachers' union said, shifting course to back mandated shots as more children fall ill.

"The circumstances have changed," Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told NBC News' "Meet the Press" program. "It weighs really heavily on me that kids under 12 can't get vaccinated."

"I felt the need ... to stand up and say this as a matter of personal conscience," she said.

The number of children hospitalised with Covid is rising across the country, a trend health experts attribute to the Delta variant being more likely to infect children than the original Alpha strain.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies